Teenage Filmstars

Ed Ball was one of the most significant presences in—and busiest contributors to—the British indie rock scenes of the 70s, 80s, 90s: He ran labels, Whaam! Records and Artpop! Records most notably; he was intimately involved with Alan McGee's Creation Records, home to many of his own recordings, too; and he fronted or toured with perhaps nine dozen different groups. Hyperbole aside, he was certainly active.

I mostly knew him as a member of the cult-fave group Television Personalities, Dan Treacy's band, and for his own, the Times, a garage act normally done up in paisley flowers or melted down into acid-trip lava-lamp ooze.

In the late 70s, however, he had a short-lived project called Teenage Filmstars, and he released a few rinky-dink mod singles under that name. In the early 90s, after a string of Times LPs, he revived it, and made perhaps the best album of his career, Star. On it, he lost the toothy, sunshine-and-lollipops affect that had become his trademark and slid into a fuzzy, distorted chasm of feedback, echo and delay all the way down. It's a triumph of early-days shoegaze, a disoriented morass of strained noise, stretched and squeezed like putty, and yet it's unrelentingly melodious, like what could've been if My Bloody Valentine had made Loveless a record of only big-hooks songs like "Soon."